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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

MEDIA NEWS ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES (SSM) & UNIONS:

Year 2004

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Sponsored link.

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2004-JAN-7: USA: Lopsided poll:

A rather amusing example of self-selection of subjects in a public opinion poll occurred in early 2004 on the web site belonging to the conservative Christian American Family Association (AFA). Like most religious conservatives, they oppose granting same sex couples equal rights in marriage. They conducted a poll to find out the degree of national support for same-sex marriage, and civil unions. On 2004-JAN-7, the AFA had received a total of 794,170 votes, an impressive response. The results probably surprised many people:
 

Item Support
Favor same sex marriage 60%
Favor civil unions with the full benefits of marriage 8%
Opposed to both 32%

Such results are out of sync with many other national polls which show a much lower support for same-sex couples. What actually happened is that the gay/lesbian/bisexual community apparently communicated with each other about the AFA poll and encouraged each other to vote. Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications in Washington, DC said: "The lopsided nature of the vote shows we're a community that can mobilize and make its point of view known. Now what has to happen is we have to translate these votes on the American Family Association's Web site into political commitment, by registering to vote and going out and voting." 1,2 The message is that polls are only an accurate reflection of the subject who actually took the poll. They are not necessarily an accurate indication of overall public opinion.

This essay continues below.

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Sponsored link:

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2004-FEB-4: MA: Court rules on constitutionality of civil unions:

On 2003-DEC-11, the Massachusetts Senate voted to ask the state Supreme Judicial Court whether full civil unions would satisfy their 2003-NOV-18 ruling. 13 The court delivered their ruling on 2004-FEB-6. With the same close vote, 4 to 3, they stated that only full marriage rights for same-sex couples would confirm to the state's constitutional. Civil unions for gays and lesbians would be unconstitutional. In an obvious reference to racial segregation, they wrote: "Because the proposed law by its express terms forbids same-sex couples entry into civil marriage, it continues to relegate same-sex couples to a different status....The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal." 3,4

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2004-FEB/MAR: USA: Rash of weird happenings:

Starting in San Francisco, California, and later spreading to New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, personnel in individual cities and counties started to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and to solemnize their marriages. Thousands responded in San Francisco. Over 1,200 are in a waiting list to marry in a small town north of New York City. The states have refused to register the marriages. More details.

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2004-MAR-5: ON, Canada: A personal protest walk:

Lawrence Ranger, a resident of Elliot Lake, ON, placed an ad in the personals column of the Toronto Star. It stated that he is "walking to Ottawa from Elliot Lake, starting out on the 27th of March as a plea to the government to return marriage to only those who can together give birth to children. Yours in Christ." His statement is somewhat confusing, because it is only a woman in a couple who is capable of giving birth to children. He perhaps wants to restrict marriage to only those who can together conceive a child. He is apparently advocating that existing and future marriages be cancelled if they are between:

bulleta same-sex couple,
bulleta man and a woman who are too old to have children,
bulleta man and a woman, one or both of whom are infertile due to natural causes, or
bulleta man and a woman, one or both of whom have been rendered infertile as a result of an operation.

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2004-MAR-8: ON, Canada: Catholic priest suspended because of support for SSM:

Tim Ryan is a Roman Catholic priest in Toronto. He has been suspended by the Archdiocese of Toronto because he has supported same-sex marriages, in opposition to the stated position of the church. Clergy in that church are not permitted to make public any opposition that they have to the church's decisions. In an open letter published in the Toronto Star, he said, in part: "Particularly in matters of human rights and government social policy, our bishops have to know that many, in good conscience, will have come to a position different than theirs. Yet they have chosen to imbue this particular issue with the qualities of a righteous crusade where the very underpinnings of our society are seen to be at stake. They seem to consider themselves thereby justified in pursuing a no-holds-barred suppression of any discussion or dissent....All abstract theoretical arguments aside, I genuinely cannot even imagine how the legal recognition of these already existing, loving human [same-sex] relationships would do anything but help to strengthen and enrich our society. I suspect that other Canadians who are personally acquainted with gay or lesbian couples would be equally at a loss to see how publicly recognizing their unions would in any way undermine the institution of marriage or society itself....My own understanding of fundamental Christian bias is that we should always strive to approach such painful social struggles by first seeking to understand the perspective of those currently excluded from fair and equal treatment as children of God. Contrary to the contention of the bishops, I believe that a society with institutions capable of courageously recognizing full minority rights will not only survive but be immeasurably enriched....I have...been stripped of my ability to serve in public ministry in my church — a penalty I feel to be profoundly unjust. But if the price of siding publicly with our courts and government in their efforts to extend basic human rights to a minority in Canada in the year 2004 requires that I pay this heavy a price within my own church community, then I feel very deeply saddened, but at peace with my decision." 5

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2004-MAR-8: ON, Canada: Response to Fr. Ryan's suspension:

David Gladstone of Toronto wrote a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star, in response to an article "Priest shut out over views," published on MAR-5. He said, in part: "I realize where the true values and concerns of the church lie -- in supporting fundamentalist church policy." Gladstone noted that when church officials were faced with sexual abuse of children by their priests, they didn't suspend them; they transferred them to other parishes. He continued: "However, when a priest stands up for love, for supporting relationships and for appreciation of the importance of marriage to all members of our society, he is severely punished for it. There is zero tolerance for that kind of dissension. Catholics must wonder how the Vatican can support such hypocrisy." 6

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2004-MAR-9: USA: Current status of constitutional amendments to ban SSM:

bulletFour states have amended their constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
bulletFourteen states are seeking to amend their constitutions during 2004.
bulletOn MAR-5, the Wisconsin Assembly approved an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. The vote was 68 to 27.
bulletThe Kansas House gave tentative approval to a constitutional amendment.
bulletThe Michigan House will shortly vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. 7

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2004-JUN-10: NY: Mayor of New Paltz cleared of charges:

Jason West, 26, a Green Party member and mayor of New Paltz, NY, started solemnizing same-sex marriages on 2004-FEB-27, without benefit of licenses. The town is located about 75 miles north of New York City.  He performed 25 SSM weddings that day. On MAR-2, he was charged with 19 counts of breaking the state's domestic relations law by solemnizing the marriages. He probably would have been charged with 25 counts -- one for each marriage -- except that witnesses could only be found for 19. The charge is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of $500.00 and/or up to a year in jail.

On 2004-JUN-10,  dismissed the charges. New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz ruled that the state failed to show it has a legitimate interest in banning same-sex weddings, and failed to prove that the law under which West was charged was constitutional. 8

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2004-JUL-13: NY: Mayor and two Unitarian Universalist ministers cleared of charges:

New Paltz Town Justice Judith Reichler dismissed the charges against two Unitarian Universalist ministers, Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey. They had married thirteen same-sex couples on 2004-MAR-6. She declared that the state had displayed an anti-gay bias. She wrote in her decision: "There can be no constitutional rationale for denying same-sex couples the right to receive the benefits that are so lavishly bestowed on mixed-sex couples." She called the Federal Marriage Amendment which was intended to ban same-sex marriage "shameful and alarming." (The FMA was defeated in the Senate on JUL-14). The state based its case for restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples on tradition and procreation. The Town Justice dmolished the former by ruling that: "Tradition does not justify unconstitutional treatment. Slavery was also a traditional institution." She also noted that since infertile and elderly couples are allowed to marry, that procreation is an invalid ground to stop same-sex marriages. 9

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2004-JUL-14: USA: Senate kills Federal Marriage Amendment:

A procedural vote failed to force a vote in the Senate on the Federal Marriage Amendment. Only 48 senators voted in favor of the procedure; 60 would have been required to force a vote. More details.

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2004-JUL-23: USA: Same-sex blessings authorized  by Episcopal bishops in 5 states:

According to AgapePress: "North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry recently told churches in his diocese they were authorized to bless homosexual unions. His announcement follows similar moves by Episcopal leaders in Nevada, Utah, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Vermont. American Anglican Council member Dr. Kendall Harmon, who serves as Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, says Curry is the first southeastern bishop to okay same-sex blessings since the denomination's General Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 'It's discouraging,' Harmon says, 'because a lot of his diocese is opposed to his vote, and now he's not simply voted for the New Hampshire election, but he's going further than that. And it's going to further divide the diocese'…" 10

Only blessings of same-sex relationships are allowed. The Episcopal Church, USA has not yet addressed the question of same-sex marriages.

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2004-AUG-03: MO: State constitutional ban on SSM passed:

The first of thirteen states which will vote during 2004 on a state constitutional amendment banning SSM passed. 71% of voters approved the measure. The remaining states are: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

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2004-AUG-12: CA: California State Supreme Court nullifies over 4,000 marriages:

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously on 2004-AUG-12 that the city had acted improperly when it started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier in 2004. In a separate decision, the court decided by a vote of 5 to 2 to nullify the over 4,000 marriages which had been performed between FEB-12 and MAR-11.

The court did not rule on the larger issue: whether the existing marriage legislation and Proposition 22, which prohibits same-sex marriage, conflicts with the state Constitution, which grants fundamental rights to all citizens in the state. Briefs on a lawsuit which will clarify this potential conflict will be heard before a lower court in 2004-SEP. More details. 11

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2004-AUG-25: USA: Marriage Protection Sunday:

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) during the week of SEP-20. Religious and social conservatives have declared the previous Sunday, SEP-19, to be Marriage Protection Sunday.

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2004-AUG-25: USA: Cheney favors same-sex marriage:

At a town meeting in Davenport, IA, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney discussed same-sex marriage and his lesbian daughter, Mary. He said: "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with...my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People....ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to." He feels that states should be free to decide whether to permit SSM. He added: "The president makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it." Tony Perkins, president of the fundamentalist Christian Family Research Council (FRC) was disappointed at Cheney's comments. He said: "Unfortunately, protection of our values is made more difficult when mixed messages emanate from the White House." He also said that if Cheney's position is implemented, he would be "consenting to allowing three percent of the population to dictate the definition of marriage for the rest of America."  12

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2004-AUG-30: House rejects the FMA:

As expected, the House rejected the FMA. A majority voted in favor of the bill; the final vote was 227 to 186, with the Representatives largely split on party lines. But a simple majority is insufficient to pass a constitutional amendment. The vote fell 49 votes short.

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2004-SEP-16: MB:  SSM now available in Manitoba, Canada:

Justice Douglas Yard of the Court of Queen's Bench noted that 12 or more other Canadian judges had already decided that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is a violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- the country's constitution. He declared the marriage act in Manitoba to be unconstitutional and ordered the definition of marriage to be "reformulated to mean a voluntary union for life of two persons at the exclusion of all others." .  More info.

2004-SEP-18: LA: State constitutional ban on SSM passed:

The second state voted on a state constitutional amendment banning SSM passed. 78% of voters approved the measure.

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2004-OCT-05: LA: Judge overturns constitutional amendment:

Louisiana District Judge William Morvant issued a ruling that the amendment passed in September was invalid. His reasoning was that it is a violation of an existing state law to approve a constitutional amendment that serves two functions. That is, when the public is asked to vote on a constitutional amendment, they can only be asked to vote on a single item, not a combination of items. This amendment prohibited both same-sex marriages and same-sex civil unions. 13 Four of the states which will be voting on NOV-02 also have single subject requirements for constitutional amendments. The states are Georgia, Montana, Ohio and Oklahoma.

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2004-OCT-06: GA: Lawsuit filed to prevent anti-SSM amendment to the state constitution:

A lawsuit filed on OCT-06 argues that the constitutional amendment scheduled to be voted upon on NOV-2 is itself unconstitutional. Georgia law requires that any amendment deal only with a single topic. The proposed amendment would ban same-sex marriage and ban civil unions and would restrict Georgia states from ruling on marriage. State Senator David Adelman (D), who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said: "The people of Georgia deserve to know what they are being asked to vote on when they mark their ballot. The referendum is misleading because the ballot language relates only to marriage, but if passed, it may smuggle into the Georgia Constitution a prohibition on civil unions." 14

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, stated: "Once again we are witnessing the imperious judiciary blatantly ignoring the will of the voters. These tyrannical judges continue to show an eagerness to legislate from the bench, imposing their own agendas, and those of their activist allies, upon American families. The will of the people of Louisiana could not be clearer -- this amendment passed with the support of nearly 80 percent of the votes. Yet this judge saw fit to disenfranchise those voters in favor of a radical social agenda." 15

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2004-NOV-02: USA: Marriage amendments to state constitutions:

Marriage amendments which change state constitutions to prevent same-sex couples from marrying were on the ballots in eleven states: . All eleven states passed the ballot. Votes were:

bulletArkansas 75%
bulletGeorgia 77%
bulletKentucky 75%
bulletMichigan 59%
bulletMississippi 86%
bulletMontana 66%
bulletNorth Dakota 73%
bulletOhio 62%
bulletOklahoma 76%
bulletOregon 56%
bulletUtah 66%

Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of the Fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family said: "Today we have witnessed a resounding victory in the battle for American families. The passage of these amendments is the result of a tremendous grass-roots effort that has sprung up across the country. As we continue the call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, today’s victories once again demonstrate that American voters believe in traditional marriage."

Some supporters of equal protections and rights for same-sex families say that they are planning to argue in the courts that these constitutional amendments violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and are thus unconstitutional. 16

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2004-NOV-05: TX: Wording changed in text books:

High school and middle school textbooks used in Texas will have to refer to marriage as between one man and one woman. The state is the second largest buyer of textbooks in the U.S.  The Board of Education had no choice in this matter because the state has a law which bans the recognition of gay civil unions and marriages. They can then generally sell the books to other states. Hold, Rinehart and Winston publishers agreed to make the changes. They will produce two versions of certain books: one for Texas and the other for the rest of the country. Board member Terri Leo, a Republican, led the effort to change the books. She objected to what she called "asexual stealth phrases" such as "individuals who marry." She said: "Marriage has been defined in Texas, so it should also be defined in our health textbooks that we use as marriage between a man and a woman." Randall Ellis, spokesperson for the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas said: "Their job is to review for factual information and instead what we see is the insertion of someone's ideology and agenda into the textbook of middle-schoolers." 17

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2004-NOV-05: SK: SSM now available in Saskatchewan, Canada:

Madam Justice Donna Wilson of the Family Law Division of the Court of Queen's Bench sided with courts in five other Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory. She ruled that existing provincial laws discriminated against same-sex couples. She ordered the province to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and register their marriages. More info.

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2004-DEC-08: Canada: Supreme Court releases ruling:

In record time, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a 19 page ruling on the Federal Government's "Proposal for an Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes." -- commonly referred to as its "reference." It involves four questions concerning same-sex marriage. The court's decision was unanimous. They ruled:

bulletThe federal government has the constitutional right to redefine who is eligible to be married. This is different from the situation in the U.S. where individual states have this authority.
bulletThe federal government's proposed legislation authorizing same-sex marriage does not conflict with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's constitution.
bulletClergy have the right to continue to discriminate, for any reason, against any couple who requests a marriage ceremony, without risking prosecution under Canada's anti-discrimination laws.

The court declined to respond to the Federal Government's fourth question: whether SSM is required by the constitution. Lower courts had already confirmed this. By not appealing those rulings, the matter is settled.

The ruling emphasized the evolving nature of marriage. It said, in part: "Several centuries ago, it would have been understood that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples. The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today." More info.

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2004-DEC-21: NF: SSM now available in Newfoundland/Labrador, Canada:

Justice Derek Green of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland ordered the province to issue licenses to two lesbian couples who had initiated a lawsuit. and to any other qualified same-sex couples in the future. This development means that, as 2004 comes to a close, same-sex couples can get married in one out of three territories and seven out of ten provinces. This totals about 87% of the population of Canada. A lawsuit is expected in Alberta during early 2005. If the couples win the right to marry, then 97% of Canadians will live in a jurisdiction where they can marry. More info.

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References:

  1. "Take our online poll," American Family Association, at: http://www.afa.net/ This was still online on 2003-JAN-7. When we returned on MAR-5 to see the latest results, we were redirected to their home page. We Emailed them to see what the final results were.
  2. "AFA marriage poll update," Flashnet!, The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest, 2004-JAN-7.
  3. Jennifer Peter, "Mass. Court Clears Way for Gay Marriages," Associated Press, 2004-FEB-4, at: http://customwire.ap.org/
  4. Rose Arce, "Massachusetts court upholds same-sex marriage," CNN Law Center, 2004-FEB-6, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  5. Tim Ryan, "Same-sex marriage: A Catholic priest dissents," Toronto Star, 2004-MAR-8, Page A17. Online at: http://www.thestar.com/
  6. David Gladstone, "Have to wonder at Vatican's hypocrisy," Letter to the editor, Toronto Star, 2004-MAR-8, Page A19.
  7. "Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Advances in Wisconsin," NewsMax.com, 2004-MAR-5, at: http://www.newsmax.com/
  8. "Wedstock," Heart of the City, at: http://www.mistersf.com/
  9. "Charges Tossed Vs. Gay-Marriage Ministers," Associated Press, 2004-JUL-13, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  10. Jim Brown, "Anglican Leader Warns ECUSA Conservatives: Prepare for Changes. Says Lambeth Report May Bring Structural Change or Division in Its Wake," AgapePress Christian News Service, 2004-JUL-21, at: http://headlines.agapepress.org/
  11. "Court annuls gay unions. California judges rule same-sex marriages void. Decision affects 4,000 couples who wed this year," Reuters, Associated Press, 2004-AUG-12.
  12. Roch Hammond, "Cheney Out of Step With GOP on Same-Sex Marriage," Cybercast News Service, 2004-AUG-26, at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  13. "Judge throws out Louisiana gay marriage ban," CNN.com, 2004-OCT-05, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  14. Kavan Peterson, "Louisiana judge tosses same-sex marriage ban," Stateline, 2004-OCT-06, at: http://www.stateline.org/
  15. Pete Winn, "Judge Strikes Down Louisiana Marriage Amendment," Citizenlink, Focus on the Family, 2004-OCT-5.
  16. Karla Dial, "11-State Sweep for Traditional Marriage," CitizenLink, 2004-NOV-03, at: http://election.citizenlink.org/
  17. "Marriage Wording to Change in Texas Books," EarthLink, 2004-NOV-08, at: http://start.earthlink.net/

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Copyright © 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-FEB-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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